Credit Cards Considerations for Expats Living Overseas

by David Tompkins

Credit Cards Considerations for Expats

Learn About Some Great Credit Cards Considerations for Expats Living Overseas

If you are going abroad, you need the best credit cards to support your lifestyle and spending while living abroad, such as dining out, membership fees, school supplies and also paying your international health insurance plan premiums. Many of the rules you were used to, have to be set aside because using a card in a foreign land becomes a totally different ballgame. International citizens need a credit card that will work globally.

When a card gets swiped abroad, it may mean incurring new & often additional fees. It could also mean you not getting travel or cashback benefits. A card that may be rewarding your shopping behavior in your hometown could stop doing so once you step foot abroad.

If you are going overseas, you need to get a card that has the same protective benefits as the cards working in your homeland. You must be keen on ensuring that these cards do not charge you an additional fee for purchases.

Credit Card Factors Expats Should Consider When Moving Abroad:

Foreign Fees

Charging foreign exchange fees is of utmost priority when deciding on a card. This fee is around 3 percent of each purchase you make. To avoid this fee, you need to do your research well before leaving the United States. Once the fee is levied after a purchase, you can’t request your credit card company to waive it off.

In case the card you have does fall into this category, apply for a card that doesn’t carry foreign transaction fees. When on a foreign trip, always pay in the local currency as it will get you the best exchange rate.

Credit Card Factors Expats Should Consider

Choice of the Card

The kind of rewards that you may want on a card would depend on the lifestyle you want to have in that particular foreign land. If you are likely to travel back and forth a lot to a certain part of the world, getting a solid travel card that charges no foreign transaction fee will be the best way to go ahead.

Reputable travel cards include Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® card and The Platinum Card® from American Express. For Canadians, many use CIBC, RBC and TD Bank. There are numerous options for many nationalities. If you do not desire to travel extensively, a cashback card would be better to cover the expenses.

Credit card users generally want a card that rolls out an optimum advantage for the expenses incurred on gas and groceries. Ensure that the subsequent cash back rewards apply to retailers at the places you are going to.

How do I avoid international credit card fees?

Practically, you may struggle to find a cashback credit card without any foreign transaction fee. Cashback cards generally do not carry an annual fee. When a card is not charging an annual fee, it is likely to charge a fee on foreign transactions.

The Uber Visa card may be a good option to consider. The card gets you 4% cash back on dining, and 3% on airfares and hotels. If you are undecided about your travel plans, a cashback card or a flat rate travel card will be the best option.

Credit Cards Considerations

Credit Cards May Work Differently in the US and Other Countries

In the United States & Canada, there is a chip-and-signature system, while in some countries the chip-and-PIN option works better. This may create unexpected problems for you. For instance, if you are at a bus station with an unattended machine that only accepts a PIN, you may not be able to complete a transaction.

In many developing countries, cash is the most common form of payment. Even in developed countries, where most transactions involve swiping of cards, vendors in remote areas may take only cash. Before your flight takes off or the cruise moves, be sure about the type of payment accepted in the country. Though it is a given that cards are accepted in most countries, it is always good to keep some cash in hand. For global nomads living abroad, it is key that you obtain a credit card that will be accepted by your destination countries internet providers so you can keep your global nomad work life working.

What You Need to Do Before Moving Abroad with your Credit Card

  • Request for a credit card PIN number from your bank. In places where card processing machines require a PIN number, you would need one to authorize purchases.
  • Inform your bank beforehand of your travel plans, requesting them to add your destination to the records. It is important as banks are always cautious about fraud and one of the possible reasons for a red flag would be monitoring international purchases with greater scrutiny. The last thing you want as an expatriate is not being able to pay your bills because of a frozen card.
  • It will help taking one credit card and one debit card from different banks. In case a problem arises in a card, you would have another one to rely on.
  • Take maximum advantage of region-to-region sweet spots. Before planning your itinerary, study popular award charts. Take into account the cost of every region prior to your reservations and departure. Find how you can use multiple inter-region sweet spots to your benefit.
  • Look for a card offering free concierge services. This perk can be very useful for you for getting accustomed to a new place that you have moved to. Concierge services work well for getting recommendations for services and restaurants. You may use card concierge services for getting dinner reservations or booking concert tickets.
  • If you want to stay somewhere for a longer duration, get a permanent local address soon. Most banks won’t serve you until you provide them proof of your local address. They may not recognize post office boxes and mail forwarding services.
  • You may want to consider obtaining a credit card from your new destination country to pay for local goods and services in the local currency. This may save you a lot of money in foreign transaction fees.



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